LINDSBORG, KS (April 30, 2010) – Renewed growth in the Midwest Conference was celebrated during its Annual Ministry Celebration here April 23-24.
The meeting centered on the theme “Looking Back Pressing Forward” and was hosted by Lindsborg Covenant Church.
Associate Superintendent Rick Mylander told the 122 delegates that church planting had slowed in the conference, but has ramped up again the past two years. A generous offering given by the Denver church when it closed has been largely responsible for the increase.
Mylander introduced three new churches to be accepted into full membership at the June 2010 Annual Meeting of the Evangelical Covenant Church:
- Ecclesia of Denver, Colorado
- Crossroads Community Church of Halstead, Kansas
- La Miel Covenant Church of Salina, Kansas
Ecclesia of Denver was started in partnership with another denomination. “It is ancient/future in its philosophy, celebrating liturgy, justice, worship, community and call in the urban core,” according to the conference. Co-pastors are Chad Wible and Jodi Adams. The church meets at St. Cajetan’s Church.
Crossroads is guided by lay leaders Tom and Sharon Wells and emphasizes reaching out to the less served in the rural community.
La Miel is a Hispanic congregation planted by First Covenant Church of Salina. Pastor Dario Vasquez started the church nearly five years ago in California after finishing seminary. He had met a pastor from First Covenant Church in Salina who encouraged him to move to Kansas.
Hands were laid on representatives of the churches (accompanying photo), and prayer was offered on behalf of the congregations.
Delegates also heard a report from Melvin Cole, who is planting Freedom Covenant Church in Kansas City, Missouri, which is reaching out to families in government housing projects.
Superintendent Ken Carlson noted that since 1995 the conference has planted 23 churches, developed seven affiliations, and four fellowship groups. The conference currently has 92 church and four fellowship groups.
Carlson said the continued focus on church planting and revitalization is built on the foundation of Covenanters who started the conference 124 years ago and have served it ever since.
Carlson has announced he will retire next year when his term expires. The conference Executive Board will meet with Evangelical Covenant Church President Gary Walter in June to discuss the search for a new superintendent. They comprise the search committee and will be seeking input from churches in the coming months.
One of the highlights of the weekend was the camping report given by Tom Cousineau, executive director of Covenant Heights Camp and Retreat Center, who recently returned to his home in Colorado to continue recuperating from a life-threatening accident in Thailand. Cousineau spoke to the delegates via Skype.
Another highlight of the celebration was when comedian and Covenanter Bob Stromberg engaged the gathering with his unique style of humor and storytelling during a Friday night performance at Smoky Valley High School Auditorium.
Delegates approved a budget of $874,728 for 2011. The budget includes expenses for the superintendent search. Treasurer Brent Thompson reported that the conference finished in the black for the second year in a row and that more than $50,000 was put back in the reserve funds.
The 125th Annual Meeting of the Midwest Conference will be held in Omaha, Nebraska, and hosted by First Covenant Church, on April 29-30, 2011.